Barack Obama’s election as the first President clearly of African descent is a reminder that the social movement for minority rights and opportunities is a full-court press on all branches of government. If the civil rights battles of the fifties were in the courts, the battles of the1960s were on the ground. Part of that strategy was to challenge segregation in the face of Southern intransigence, but another part was to get people to register to vote, with an eye toward Congressional representation.
Barack Obama’s election as the first President clearly of African descent makes the Presidency part of the struggle for civil rights, just as Brown v. Board Of Education made the courts part of the fight and Mississippi Freedom Summer brought the fight to the legislature. Today we recognize that every branch of government is essential to the struggle for minority rights and opportunities. We also recognize that the African American struggle for civil rights is not just a battle at the highest levels. The struggle does not always occur in the courts, or even in lawmaking bodies such as Congress and the various state legislatures. While important precedents and cultural changes emerge at these highest levels, the ultimate battles to implement changes made at the top take place in the lives of everyday people.